Tag Archives: publishing

The 2017 Literary Prize in Fiction winner: “The Tinder Men” by David Henson

Announcing the winner of our first annual Literary Prize! The 2017 So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction, judged by Leesa Cross-Smith, is awarded to David Henson for his phenomenal short story, “The Tinder Men.”

We’d also like to announce and honor the four additional finalists, whose work (along with David’s) will appear in the upcoming release of The Radvocate, our literary magazine, slated for mid-August.

Kathleen Langstroth, “Primary Education”
Toni Martin, “Fool’s Gold”
Gerardo Gurrola, “Gibbous”
Pouya Razavi, “Echoes”

Here’s David Henson’s story, and Laura Gwynne’s illustration!

accompanying artwork, “The Tinder Men,” by Laura Gwynne

The Tinder Men
by David Henson

Alice spends her mornings searching Tinder for men who look like they might bring weed. She makes plans to meet at a bar of their choosing, then stops responding to their texts for the rest of the day. An hour after she’s supposed to meet the men she says, Sorry, I got sucked into something.

Sorry, I got sucked into something, she texts. I got sucked into something and I lost track of time.

She’s always getting sucked into things.

Sometimes the men respond, sometimes they’re hurt and they never text again. If she hears from them that night, she texts her address. She feels better about casually inviting them over at the end of the night instead of during the day.

Alice likes redheads with messy hair. She likes sex through the underwear, around the underwear, but it rarely happens. She smokes the Tinder men’s weed and observes their many-splendored eyebrows.  

Tonight the Tinder man isn’t responding.

It’s late. Alice can smell that something organic has gone off. She wonders if the smell is coming from her. She wonders if she’s been smelling this bad all day and then wonders if she’s rotting and soon she’ll be dead like her brother, but then she sees the halved grapefruit rotting in the nearby garbage can.   

Alice always thinks she should bring up her dead brother earlier in conversation because all the best moments in life have real tension. She could say her brother died and she is destroyed, and how can this person standing in front of her ever make any kind of difference to her? Her brother died. Her faith is warped and mangled.     

The moon is wading in the black night sky, she thinks. Wading in the kiddie pool sky.

Her brother died and all she could offer was the opposite of proof. A covered up hole in the ground. A name on a stone. A story that somebody once said out loud.

The Tinder man shows up at midnight. He doesn’t mention how she flaked on the first set of plans. Alice is wearing a sweater with no bra. 

I want your body, he says as his Burberry coat slips to the floor.

The Burberries taste like Burberries, she thinks.

A woman said that to me at the gym the other day, she lied.   

She’s already very high. She says, Do you really want this body? Do you want to wear me like a bear skin rug?

The Tinder man ignores her and reaches for the joint between her lips. Later they burn a pizza together and toss pornographic playing cards across the room, trying to get them stuck in the grates of her tiny space heater.

Alice leans back hard into the last church pew. She wants to snap it in two. The wedding ceremony has been dragging on forever. The groomsmen are wearing pastel bowties and the whole thing feels kind of divorcey.

Alice has always believed that weddings are places of conflict. Her parents met at a wedding. Her parents started her family at a wedding.

Alice would have taken her brother as her plus one but of course he died. She promises that from now on, when people die she’s going to start saying they murdered themselves. They murdered themselves with cholesterol foods. They murdered themselves with life.

Alice’s brother murdered himself with the pointless thoughts that dripped into hardened stalactites in his brain.

Her friend Pat is her plus one, but not really. During the reception he mostly chats up old ladies next to the buffet. She watches him from the singles table. The special catering candles heat the silver trays all lined up behind him. She watches her friend like he is a fantastic film that will never end.

Outside, the black ocean sky is raining. Alice squints through the cold hotel window. She feels like a person looking back on childhood. The role of events in life change over time, she thinks, and she hugs that thought all the way up to her discounted room on the seventh floor.

Two days later Alice returns to work. She remembers that she was promoted just before her brother died and she took a long break. She isn’t sure whether or not she’ll be expected to be the manager when she gets there.

Every day is exactly the same at McDonald’s. Soon they’ll all be robots. Well, soon they’ll all be at home and robots will do the work. The government has no plan for how to deal with that. The government is not for them. For now, the government is against them.

She’s still sitting in her car behind the McDonald’s even though her shift ended hours ago. The engine is on. The car dings continually to remind her that she’s not buckled in.

The moon is waiting in the ocean black sky. The moon will come when you call it. The moon will be sucked under by the currents.

Alice takes her hand off the wheel and reaches into her hair. She gently pokes around and tells herself she is searching for evidence of her brother’s murder.

She thinks about how her brother used to say that the world is a collaboration of symbols that were never meant to add up to a meaningful thought. She wonders if he thought that thought on the day he died. She wonders if people have any good thoughts on the day they die.

The emoji for the world is a blue circle with some green splatters on it. She texts three of them in a row to Pat. Pat texts back a yellow thumbs up and a red apple. She takes a blurry picture of herself biting her thumb in her dark car but she doesn’t send it. She lets a few drops of blood drip onto her rubber phone case, then rolls her thumb in it. When she pushes the button for the dashboard light, there’s no fingerprint, only a smear of pale blood.    

When she gets home she signs up for a Christian dating website. She lets self-identified Christian men buy her dinner every other night for a month. They spend hours at restaurants named after days of the week. There isn’t any sex. After the first few dinners, she starts imagining she’s going on auditions to be these men’s mother. She hears it in every man’s voice. Are you willing to take care of me? She knows some of them have weed but none of them offer any.

She takes half of her dinner home in a styrofoam container and eats alone the other nights.

At work she fades into the background, watching as one employee at a time is replaced by an electronic equivalent. The new cashiers are cartoon faces on two foot tall computer screens. Besides pushing the power button, there’s nothing else she needs to do to manage them. Pat meets her in back and they smoke the last of his weed. He has also recently been replaced at his job by a car that drives itself.

Pat is staring at a flashing sign advertising the triumphant return of a pork sandwich.

Isn’t it nuts that little kids eat food every day even though they don’t know why they’re doing it? he says. Or, like, cavemen ate food their whole lives and they had no idea how food works.

They got hungry, she says. So they ate.

But they were just going around and finding stuff they could shove into themselves. That was like the whole point of being alive back then.

Before they unplugged him, machines performed all the normal human functions for her brother. Different sized tubes ran to his mouth and his wrist, secured with medical adhesive tape. His last meal was humid air and IV fluid.  

It sounds lovely, she says.

That night, Alice receives an email informing her that surveillance cameras caught her smoking behind the McDonald’s and that she’s fired. The email is from the cameras. The surveillance cameras are the ones who fired her.

It was only a matter of time, she thinks as she drops her nametag into the nearby garbage can. One of the thoughts that haunted her brother taps her on the shoulder but she deftly ignores it.  

The moon had been growing bigger each night, and now the moon was the whole sky, and you had to hope that a crater was perched over your bedroom window otherwise it would be too bright to sleep.

She’d been the one who picked her brother up from the therapist after his court-mandated appointments. When he told her that the only fix for his brain would be shutting it off, she’d suggested he drive an hour to an isolation tank she’d read about but had never been to. It cost seventy-five dollars to sit in the dark of the isolation tank for one hour, floating in the extra-buoyant liquid. That seemed like fifteen dollars too much to spend on herself. She wishes she’d offered to pay for him, but what difference could that perfect dark really have made?  

There were no more jobs to be had. Alice put a thin rubber band around the stack of unopened bills on the kitchen table. The thermostat hovered at uncomfortable temperatures.

She was mad at herself for being jealous of her brother’s carefree deadness. He wasn’t around to laugh at her or tell her she was being stupid, so she had to keep thinking that same thought over and over. 

Eventually all she could think about was that her problems would never end, but of course that isn’t true for anyone. Everything ends, but the brain has no use for finality, so it chooses to forget the lessons of dead brothers.

Instead, things were dire for a while, and then Pat borrowed money from his father and lent it to her. In fact, they all borrowed money from each other, all the people around, and they borrowed other things, and everyone knew everyone. Alice borrowed money from her dead brother. She wore his winter hat and borrowed the smell behind his ears. The government borrowed their labor, which they lent for free until they were tired and needed to sleep under the glow of the moon. The moon borrowed the night sky, and during the day they all borrowed the rays of the sun. They borrowed memories of each other and played them in their heads when they were having trouble sleeping at night. Viruses borrowed their health and they slept on their couches with the TV on. The atmosphere borrowed their breath and returned it promptly. Or didn’t.

Everyone and everything was so busy borrowing that no one thought to keep track of who owed who, and they forgot what debts were, and they forgot to renew their vehicle registrations, and whenever they felt a certain feeling inside their stomachs, they went out and found pieces of the world to put in their mouths and chew and swallow.

They chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed the moon white sky.


David Henson is pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His work has appeared at Fluland, Big Bridge, and won the 2016 Problem House Press short story contest. He writes and records music under the name Shadows on a River, which can be heard at shadowsonariver.bandcamp.com. He tweets @davidbhenson


If you want to support what we do at So Say We All, a literary nonprofit and small press, please consider becoming a sustaining member! Details here: www.sosayweallonline.com/membership

Black Candies: The Eighties

Announcing our next Black Candies theme! The Eighties.

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Black Candies is a journal of literary horror and darkness. In these dark corners, we have infinite room to grow, and to innovate. We’re allowed to push boundaries and set precedents. We revel in the daring. We aim to scare. Scary can be good. Scary can cause change.

This year, our theme is The Eighties. Whether you lived through it, or fetishize it, there’s no denying its continued effect.

Horror and the ‘80s go hand in hand. Movie fans can point to it as the decade where franchises like Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween, Hellraiser and Friday the 13th turned monsters into celebrities. It’s a decade that gave birth to the VHS, which allowed us to mainline horror right into our living rooms. The format also enabled a generation of crude, disgusting, and often brilliant filmmakers whose access to the expansive market gave them free reign to coat their screens with blood.

But art wasn’t the only thing that became horrific. Both consumerism and nationalism surged. Hate and bigotry blinded us to an epidemic that ravaged the country, while those in power laughed about it. We were ruled by an idiot entertainer. Any of this sound familiar?

What we’re looking for: We’re looking for stories that are set in, pay homage to, or reference the ‘80s in a major way. No smartphones, no Internet. Analog technology. Drugs. Yuppies. Wealth. Social commentary. It’s pretty open to interpretation, really. Think Stranger Things. Think nostalgia. Think Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark.

What we’re not looking for: Even though splatter films ruled the era, that’s not what we want. Black Candies attempts to publish the best in literary horror. We want to be scared, shaken and disturbed by your story, but at the same time, we want to fall in love with your prose. We want it to be smart. Gore and blood is fine as long as your story doesn’t obsess over it.

No word limit, but 2,000-6,000 is ideal.

As always, Black Candies makes a concerted effort to make horror less of a white dudes club. We would love to read more submissions from women, POC, LGBTQ, and diverse voices.

[You can buy some of our prior issues on Amazon: Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable and Black Candies: Surveillance.]

Submission deadline: August 31st, 2017

READY? Go to our submissions portal here.


If you like what we do at So Say We All, the literary non-profit and small press that brings you books like Black Candies, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month.

The SSWA Literary Prize in Fiction judged by Leesa Cross-Smith

***DEADLINE EXTENDED TO MAY 10TH***

Announcing the brand new, first ever So Say We All Literary Prize in Fiction! One first place winner will receive a $250 prize and publication online and in print. We are excited to explore this realm. And! We are extra excited (and feeling a bit fannish) because our inaugural contest will be judged by the amazing Leesa Cross-Smith.

Leesa Cross-Smith is the author of Every Kiss a War and the editor of WhiskeyPaper. Her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions. She loves baseball and musicals. Find more @ LeesaCrossSmith.com and WhiskeyPaper.com.

Contest Guidelines:

  • We are looking for fiction short stories
  • Surprise us. We want your beautiful, your weird, your uncouth, your unexpected, your experiments, your sadness, your joy, your fear. Story is our currency here: give us characters we can’t forget doing things we can’t forget.
  • Length: under 3,000 words please.
  • Please make sure your submission does not have your name or any identifying information in the attachment
  • One story per $10 entry fee. Multiple submissions are fine, as long as each is its own entry with its own $10 entry fee.
  • Simultaneous submissions are also just fine. However, if your work gets picked up elsewhere, please withdraw immediately. Entry fees are, regretfully, not refundable.

Contest Details:

  • Submission window: 1/15/17 – 5/10/17
  • ***EXTENDED DEADLINE: May 10th at 11:59 PM pacific time!***
  • Deadline: April 30th, 2017 at 11:59 PM pacific time
  • $10 entry fee
  • $250 prize for one first place winner
  • Blind submission process! No names in your files!
  • The winner’s story will be illustrated, published in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen, and published online on our website.
  • The top five finalists will also be published in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen.
  • All contest entries will be considered for publication in The Radvocate Issue Fifteen.
  • We love you and cannot wait to read your work and share it with Leesa.

Ready? SUBMIT HERE.

Here’s a little bit more about our judge:

Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of Every Kiss a War (Mojave River Press, 2014). Every Kiss a War was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). Her short story “Whiskey & Ribbons” won Editor’s Choice in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest (2011) and was listed as a notable story for storySouth‘s Million Writers Award. She is a consulting editor for Best Small Fictions 2017. Her work has appeared in Best Small Fictions 2015, SmokeLong QuarterlyLittle FictionWigleaf Top 50Longform FictionCarve Magazine, Hobart, NANO FictionMonkeybicyclePithead ChapelGigantic SequinsFolioAmerican Short Fiction (online)Midwestern GothicJukedWord Riot, Sundog LitThe Rumpus, and many others. She and her husband Loran run a literary magazine called WhiskeyPaper.

Send Leesa your brightest stars. You got this.


If you like what we do at So Say We All, a literary non-profit and small press, please consider becoming a sustaining member for as little as $5 per month. Details here.

An interview with Justin Hudnall in War, Literature and the Arts Journal

Read Megan Kahn’s interview with Justin Hudnall in the current issue of War, Literature & the Arts.

Justin and Megan’s interview addresses the need for veteran literature and literary outreach in general, and, in insightful and revealing detail, they break down the process of creating and editing Incoming, both the book and the episodes of the radio show.

[W]e’d like to see the literary industry become much more populist in general, willing to invest more in developing voices and mentoring them rather than just waiting for finished novels and memoirs to show up at their door, because the majority of those come from people of privilege and education, which results in a monotone body of works available. If people aren’t reading enough, I believe it’s because they’re not seeing their lives reflected in the stories being shoved at them.

[…]

I believe the Incoming project—as much media as funding allows us to generate through it—is good for our democracy, to “bridge the gap” as the oft-used phrase goes, between the small minority that carries the burden for their entire country’s foreign policy, and the rest in order for them to understand the world they’re living in.

Read the rest here: http://wlajournal.com/wlaarchive/28/kahn.pdf

Thank you Megan and all at WLA. The issue of WLA Journal also features poetry, fiction, memoir, art, other interviews, critical essays, lectures, reviews, and more. And for you veteran writers out there, they accept submissions year round, so send them your work!

To support Incoming and the work So Say We All does in education, publishing, and performance outreach, please consider donating to our winter fundraiser or becoming a sustaining member. We need your help!

Jim Ruland reviews Black Candies for CityBeat

We just launched our winter fundraiser. Your generous contribution to our year-end fundraiser will go directly to helping us providing brave new voices the attention they deserve and our culture needs.


We are so happy to see Jim Ruland, who we consider a gifted, insightful, and tough critic and friend, review Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable for San Diego CityBeat this week!

He describes the work as “disturbing,” points out that some stories “make the grotesque more palatable with a dash of humor,” and some are “epically gorgeous.”

Gross and Unlikeable is our women-only collection of dark fiction and art. Jim writes, quoting guest editor Natanya Ann Pulley:

For this edition, Black Candies turned to guest editor Natanya Ann Pulley who writes in the foreword, “I believe writing stories (like all art) is a political act. Whose story we tell, whose we share, and how we expect them to be handed to us is an engagement with truths… This collection doesn’t just give women a space to tell vile stories, it grapples with notions of story and reality handed to women through things dark and dangerous.”

We are proud to have created a space for women’s voices in horror and dark literature. Read the full review here. And get your own copy of Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable today: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0997949902/ And! Join us at the release party, next Thursday, 12/8 at 8 PM at Whistle Stop Bar.

Thank you so much, Jim, and San Diego CityBeat, for the fantastic review, and thank you for reading and continuing to champion literature and the arts in San Diego and all over the place.

jim-ruland-review-featured-image


If you like what we do at So Say We All and want us to keep on keeping on, please support our winter fundraising campaign, happening now, or consider becoming a supporting member.

Our 2016 Publications for your Cyber Monday Pleasure

While 2016 seems to have taken a collective dump on civilization, we are proud of the books we released this year and the incredible and under-heard voices we published. Though 2016 is almost over, we will not go quietly. Read our books. Hear these voices. And on this Cyber of all Mondays, we invite you to support a non-profit while stuffing some fine literature into the stockings of your loved ones (and yourself).

2016-book-covers

Please also consider supporting So Say We All during our winter fundraising campaign, or including a donation as a gift to a friend or family member: https://fundrazr.com/b1BZO3?ref=ab_e2F0Fe

Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable contributors

Our women-only edition of our annual collection of dark fiction, literary horror, and art, Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable, launches this week, on Black Friday (and you can pre-order it now here).

In a 2015 interview with Black Candies founding editor Ryan Bradford, we asked him about why women’s voices matter in horror:

I’ve found that women are often underrepresented in horror, and wanted to create a platform where they could not only have a voice, but be as gross, dark and unlikeable as they want. I still think there’s an attitude, even among the liberal literati, that can’t abide a woman writing ugly stories.

And lo, a theme was born: gross and unlikeable. Over the past year, guest editor Natanya Ann Pulley has carefully led us in the midwifery of putting together this collection of beautiful and powerful stories and art. Along every step of the way, all contributors have been women. Behold the line-up of incredible writers, artists, editors, and designers that comprise this killer book:

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Fiction by:

RACHEL MARSTON / LILY HOANG / MARY CROSBIE / RACHEL LEE TAYLOR / KAYLA MILLER / MARIE JOHNSON PARRISH / CAIT COLE / DANIELLE RENINO / JENNIFER D. CORLEY / BONNIE ALEXANDER / COLLEEN BURNER / JEANETTE SANCHEZ-IZENMAN / CHRISTINE HAMM / GABRIELLE JOY LESSANS / SUBASHINI NAVARATNAM / T.A. STANLEY / CLAIRE HERO / FLORENCE ANN MARLOWE / JESSICA LANAY / CHELSEA LAINE WELLS / JENNIFER MANALILI / HANNA TAWATER / MADELINE GOBBO / RACHEL BUSNARDO / JOANNA ROYE / CHRISTINA LYDIA / BRENDA SIECZKOWSKI

Art by:

CHRISTINE HAMM / MADELINE GOBBO / CARABELLA SANDS / RAYNA HERNANDEZ / CARRIE ANNE HUDSON / SARAH GIRDZIUS / MELISSA GUTIERREZ / CHRISTINA COLLINS / JULIA DIXON EVANS / KRISTY BLACKWELL / LAURIE NASICA / SOMARAMOS / MISANTHROPE / JOHANNA ROSS / VANESSA MARTINEZ / LAURA GWYNNE / VANESSA MARTINEZ / WILHELMINA BONES

Editorial staff:

GUEST EDITOR: NATANYA ANN PULLEY
EDITOR: JULIA DIXON EVANS
DESIGNER AND COVER ART: CAROLYN RAMOS
FOUNDING EDITOR: RYAN BRADFORD
PUBLISHER: SO SAY WE ALL

We can’t wait for you to get your eager little hands on this book. Black Friday. Here.

San Diego: come to our release party on December 8th.


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a supporting member. For as little as $5 per month you can support the work we do in finding the voices we don’t often hear from and helping them tell their stories, and tell them well.

Adrian Van Young on Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable

New Orleans author Adrian Van Young, author of the novel Shadows in Summerland, and the short story collection The Man Who Noticed Everything, recently read at the very first installment of our literary reading series, The Foundry, in April. We loved having him in town and showing him off for you all, and now he is busy showing us off. Check out what Adrian has to say about Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable, publishing next week, on Black Friday, November 25th.

Gross and Unlikeable is our collection of short fiction and art exclusively by women contributors. We are proud of and madly in love with this work, and hope you will be too.

“The writers in this anthology breathe life into characters and conflagrations that are frightening and fearful, cagey and forthright, familiar and unknowable, repulsive and endearing, vulnerable and indomitable, befuddling and unmistakable, gross and unlikeable, yes, i.e. human. Together, they churn up a vital miasma of horror’s sub-genres to create something heedless, fresh and lasting. Reading this book is like being drawn and quartered by a stampede of half-decayed, red-eyed horses.”

–Adrian Van Young, author of Shadows in Summerland

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We have never been drawn and quartered by a stampede of any horses, much less half-decayed, red-eyed ones, but we now know what Adrian thinks it feels like. We can’t wait to show you the way our authors take horror’s sub-genres and stand them on end in this beautiful volume. PRE ORDER IT NOW!

Coming Black Friday. We hope you’ve adjusted your Christmas lists accordingly because it’s time to get some gross and unlikeable stories by women out into the world.


Mark it as “WANT TO READ” on Goodreads and impress your friends with your incredible taste.

And come to our San Diego release party: https://www.facebook.com/events/1138153422920005/


If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 per month.

Charlie Jane Anders on Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable

We asked the amazing Charlie Jane Anders, author of All The Birds in the Sky (Tor Books) what she thought of our forthcoming all-women anthology of horror and dark fiction, Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable, now available for pre-sale here. Coming Black Friday, 11/25.

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“Deeply inappropriate, unbelievably disturbing, these are some brave and real stories of love, sex, family and other horrors.”

—Charlie Jane Anders, author of All the Birds in the Sky

Thank you Charlie Jane Anders! We can’t wait for all of you to get your hands on your copy, too. Coming at you November 25th. Pre-order now.



charliejaneandersCharlie Jane Anders
is the author of All the Birds in the Sky, out now. She’s the organizer of the Writers With Drinks reading series, and she was a founding editor of io9, a website about science fiction, science and futurism. Her stories have appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Tor.com, Lightspeed, Tin House, ZYZZYVA, and several anthologies. Her novelette “Six Months, Three Days” won a Hugo award.


If you like what we do at So Say We All and want us to keep doing more of it, please consider becoming a supporting member.

Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable is now available for PRE-SALE

YES we have a Gross and Unlikeable pre-sale!

Black Friday is coming. In just under two weeks, Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable, our women-only edition of our annual print anthology of literary horror and dark fiction, will hit the shelves and your hearts. Now is the time to listen to marginalized voices.

This book features 28 stories and accompanying art. All women contributors: writers, artists, editors, designers. And now you can make sure you get yourself a copy:

Black Candies: Gross and Unlikeable PRE-SALE.

Women. Horror. Coming November 25th, 2016
Women. Horror. Coming November 25th, 2016

If you like what we do at So Say We All, please consider becoming a supporting member for as little as $5 a month.